297 Companies Lose Their Perfect Score on LGBT Values in 2023 Rankings
For all Bud Light endured in 2023 — crashing sales, tanking stocks, public fury, and international ridicule — at least the far-Left has their back, right? Wrong. Dylan Mulvaney’s “can-gate” didn’t just crater Anheuser-Busch’s brand, it couldn’t buy them love from the bullies they were doing it for. Turns out, selling your soul to the transgender movement won’t earn you brownie points with the biggest LGBT advocacy group in America. In fact, going out on a limb actually cost them in this year’s Human Rights Campaign (HRC) rankings. And they weren’t the only ones.
If anyone deserved HRC’s praise, it’s the companies stubbornly swimming against the tide of consumer outrage. But incredibly, that’s not what they got in this year’s Olympics of identity politics. HRC’s 2023 Corporate Equality Index is shocking proof that no matter how much you sacrifice for the LGBT cause, it will never — ever — be enough.
Bud Light, Target, and hundreds of other slaves to sexual extremism found themselves on the losing end of this year’s rankings, scoring well below normal. Anheuser-Busch, who would top Americans’ list as the most trans-forward, dropped 30 points on HRC’s index, despite their costly activism. That seemed to be a pattern for most brands, as the number of perfect scorers dwindled from 842 in 2022 to 545 in 2023. That’s a 297-company difference in just 12 months!
Amazingly, the brands hardest hit by the country’s boycotts seemed to fare worse than usual — an odd way to thank the CEOs who stuck their necks out for HRC’s unpopular agenda. Now, caught in the middle of grassroots contempt and demanding LGBT overlords, companies must feel like they’re in a lose-lose position. Instead of giving businesses space to navigate these troubled waters, HRC is trying to exact an even steeper price on their corporate allies — most of whom are already paying a huge one in lost revenue and consumer confidence.
The Political Forum’s Stephen Soukup, author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” thinks HRC “has finally set the bar too high — if not in the absolute sense,” he told The Washington Stand, “then certainly relative to the other forces now at play in retail reality.”
This year’s numbers bear that out. Of the 1,256 companies who had participated in the index before, more than half (710) earned lower scores in 2023, including 85 Fortune 500 heavyweights who lost their perfect rating.
And it didn’t pay to carry water for the HRC’s political agenda either. The businesses who publicly lobbied for the radical Equality Act — Delta Air Lines, Netflix, Atlassian, Aflac, Tesla, Sony, ABB, Duke Energy, Qualcomm, and others — all lost at least 30 points in the latest report. In fact, HRC’s newest criteria is so extreme that if a business changed nothing from 2022, their ranking stood to drop 45%!
So what was required for this elusive perfect score? CEOs had to agree to the following:
- Recruiting employees and choosing vendors based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Vetting any contractors or vendors for LGBTQ policies;
- Discriminating against non-religious charities based on LGBTQ policies related to sex and gender;
- Forcing employees to undergo multiple ideological trainings;
- Providing gender transition guidelines to all employees;
- Offering an annual LGBTQ+ benefits guide, including a comprehensive explanation of transgender health care services covered by the company;
- Actively marketing and advertising to LGBT consumers;
- Covering the cost of gender transition related procedures for employees and their children;
- Pledging to donate to at least one LGBTQ organization or event; and
- Publicly advocating for LGBTQ+ legislation through local, state, or federal legislation.
Even Target couldn’t sell enough chest binders and Pride Santas to notch a 100%. They were docked five points for “responsible citizenship,” the catch-all category for failing to properly address a controversy. Along with the red bullseye, household names like UPS, CVS, United Airlines, BP, MGM, Hewlitt Packard, PNC, Barclays, Takeda, TIAA, and Danaher also lost their 100% scores. They either failed to provide a gender transition guide, an LGBTQ benefits resource, or enough internal trainings and outreach.
Others, like Elon Musk’s X, probably prided themselves on falling off the most favored list. In a single year, Twitter went from a perfect 100 to a negative 25, losing a whopping 125 points in a single leadership change. With more and more Americans flexing their buying power over LGBT extremism, how many other brands will decide this isn’t a ransom they’re willing to pay?
Paul Fitzpatrick, president of the 1792 Exchange, took the 2023 report as an immensely positive sign. “It’s good to see 300 fewer companies bending the knee to this controversial, activist organization. But public companies cannot fulfill their duty to their shareholders while allowing HRC to dictate their operations, messaging, policy engagement, and charitable giving. HRC’s annually escalating manipulation and extortion must be rejected. It’s time for businesses to get back to business.”
Soukup agreed. “Everyone, everywhere knows what happened to Bud Light and Target. As a result, everyone, everywhere knows that playing HRC’s game now has consequences.” That’s significant, he told TWS, because “for years, HRC was the only player, and companies knew they could play without negative consequences. Bud Light and Target demonstrated that that’s not true anymore. HRC was always notorious for changing its standards every year, thereby forcing companies to change their behavior as well. HRC simply bought its own hype, believing that it could change standards and push the envelope as much as it wanted to, but it finally found the point at which that’s no longer true.”
“I think the fact that Bud Light and Target have seen their scores suffer plays into this changing narrative as well,” he said. “Executives see that HRC demands bold action but does not always reward it. When companies push too far and alienate customers, HRC remains unbending and, worse still, aggressively resistant to course correction. HRC would rather see companies (and shareholders) suffer for their agenda than permit them to retreat even an inch. Corporate executives have noticed and have, consequently, rethought their compliance with HRC’s demands.”
If CEOs are smart, they’ll stop playing HRC’s games and focus on winning back the only approval that matters: consumers’.
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.